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Who will Trump pick for the Supreme Court? The experts weigh in

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

One of the key reasons that Republican Donald Trump won the White House seems to be his pledge to put conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to exit polling from Tuesday's stunning victory for the upstart populist candidate, seven out of 10 voters said SCOTUS appointments were either the most important or an important factor when they made their choices.

NBC News graphic

During the campaign, Trump pledged to put judges on the Supreme Court who would adhere strictly to the U.S. Constitution, uphold the rights of gun owners and work to roll back Roe v. Wade.

His first task is to appoint a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year.

President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, was never confirmed by the Senate.

But the advanced ages of multiple current justices means that Trump may end up appointing more judges to the high court than that -- maybe even three or four.

In May, Trump released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justice nominees.

That list included:

  • William Pryor of Alabama
  • Don Willett of Texas
  • Allison Eid of Colorado
  • Steven Colloton of Iowa
  • Joan Larsen of Michigan
  • Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania
  • Raymond Gruender of Missouri
  • Diane Sykes of Wisconsin
  • Thomas Lee of Utah
  • David Stras of Minnesota
  • Raymond Kethledge of Michigan

Not all of those judges have been supportive of Trump -- Willet, for example, had regularly made disparaging comments about the Republican on Twitter.

Many politics-watchers have floated the idea of Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz to fill a Supreme Court vacancy -- especially because it could be advantageous for Trump to remove the the Republican runner-up in the 2016 primaries from 2020 contention.

In September, Trump added more judges to his list, including: Robert Young of Michigan; Amul Thapar, of South Asian descent; Federico Moreno of Florida; military veteran Margaret Ryan; and most intriguingly, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

Lee, a rising star in the Republican Party, is closely tied to Cruz, who ended up endorsing Trump the day the campaign released the second list of SCOTUS candidates.

Lee has indicated through a spokesperson that he is not interested in the job -- but that was before Trump won the election.

One last thing…
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